It was the shortest day of the year, and the warmest on record for the date, when members of De La Salle College's Enviro-Council planted 400 native trees and 200 other native plants on June 21 2016 beside a stream that runs along the school's border. It was a fitting reminder that taking action on climate change, including tree planting, is a race against time.
The Year 9 boys will provide ongoing leadership for the project, called Our Stream, Our Taonga, in years to come. The first stage, completed in 2015, has already earned them an Enviroschools award. Further plans include a rongoa garden of Māori medicinal plants, a Pasifika garden with plants familiar to the cultures of the mainly Pasifika students at the school, an outside teaching space - and planting more native trees, as part of a national tree planting initiative to reduce the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere that cause climate change.
Launched last year, Our Stream, Our Taonga comes under the college's Science Faculty and realises a long-time dream of Faculty Head Kane Raukura. Help and support has come from Auckland Council's Wai Care, Te Ngāhere and Education for Sustainability programmes, and the Ōtara-Papatoetoe Community Board. This year's trees were provided by Trees That Count.
The stream itself is of cultural significance, being on the boundary between the rohe of the Tainui tribe to the south, and the Ngāti Whātua tribe to the north.